Blair Underwood Marries Longtime Friend Josie Hart in Intimate Caribbean Wedding (Exclusive)

Friends for 43 years, the actor and Hart were married at the Casa de Campo Resort & Villas in the Dominican Republic: ‘It was surreal and magical’

<p>Martin Ameztoy Photography</p>  Blair Underwood and Josie Hart

Martin Ameztoy Photography

Blair Underwood and Josie Hart

When it came to planning his wedding with longtime friend Josie Hart, Blair Underwood was a very hands-on groom.

“I’ve been very involved,” Underwood, 58, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the couple’s destination wedding. In front of 100 guests, including actress Kim Fields and actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner , the two were wed on June 24 Casa de Campo Resort & Villas in the Dominican Republic. “I’m a Virgo and a bit of a perfectionist so I like to make sure details are taken care of.”

For more exclusive wedding photos and all the details, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Wedding planner Theresa Calcos of Casa de Campo worked with Angelica and Adriana Noriega of Caribbean Celebrations who created the ambience and decor for the celebration, which included a welcome party before the wedding.

Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception featuring a menu of Dominican ceviche, coconut breaded shrimp and grilled bacon wrapped plantains along with the bride’s signature drink, Prosecco with a splash of grenadine.

“It was a beautiful, soul-touching celebration of kindred spirits, love and family; as incredible as Josie and as phenomenal as Blair,” says Fields.

<p>Martin Ameztoy Photography</p>  (L to R) Blake Campbell, Paris Underwood, Berrett Wells, Brett Owens, Randii Foster, Blake Underwood, Brielle Underwood, Brie Owens

Martin Ameztoy Photography

(L to R) Blake Campbell, Paris Underwood, Berrett Wells, Brett Owens, Randii Foster, Blake Underwood, Brielle Underwood, Brie Owens

For the ceremony, Hart wore a bespoke transitional two-in-one gown featuring a fitted trumpet silhouette and a detachable overskirt with a cathedral length train designed by Nneka C. Alexander of Brides by Nona Couture Atelier. Underwood opted for an ISAIA ivory wool/silk jacquard patterned evening jacket with satin lapel paired with linen vest and evening trousers. Under an arch adorned with roses, two exchanged handwritten vows.

“The first time I saw her in the dress, she looked like a princess,” Underwood said. “She was so beautiful. The deep emotions that were displayed during the ceremony, the lightness and fun of the reception, it all felt humbling because it all just fell into place. It was amazing.”

At the reception, the couple celebrated with a five-tier, French Vanilla and butter crème frosted cake by Flor Reposteria. While DJ Germán Cabello of GCStar Punta Cana provided the music along with Underwood’s friend, Milo Levell, the bride and groom had their first dance to Tony Terry’s song “With You”—performed live by the singer as a surprise to the Hart—before fireworks lit up the night sky.

“It was surreal and magical,” Hart said of the day. “His vows, to hear him say the words he said to me for our forever was incredible. Between our children and all of them giving toasts, the fireworks right after our first dance, the entire day was just beyond my expectations.”

Underwood first met his bride when he was 16 and the two began a friendship that would span the next 43 years. “My mother loved and adored her. We lived separate lives on separate coasts. We never saw each other a lot. But when we talk, there’s always such a strong connection of just understanding each other,” he says.

The two began dating after their respective divorces and Underwood proposed last fall. “It just feels so right,” he adds. “I just feel like it is the next step in moving forward in my life, and doing it together in our lives together.”

More than anything the actor is especially grateful to have the love and support of their family and friends. “For all of those who know us, and I’m talking about our nine kids, grandkids, former spouses. For everybody to be on-board and embrace and accept this union is nothing but God,” he says.

“To find love and discover love in someone who’s been around in my life, in my family’s life, and as I have been in hers, for so long in an honorable, platonic way. To find each other in this space when we’re both single and looking to see how we’ll spend the rest of our lives. It’s a beautiful love story.”

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